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State reaches $130M deal with alleged Passaic polluters

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The state has reached a $130 million settlement with a handful of companies it believes are responsible for polluting in the Passaic River.

Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman today announced the deal, which was approved by a Superior Court judge Friday.

In a joint press release from the attorney general’s office and the Department of Environmental Protection, the state announced the defendants have agreed to pay $130 million to cover a portion of the state’s claims related to Passaic River contamination. The defendants included in the agreement are: the Spanish firm Repsol S.A. and Argentina’s YPF S.A. YPF Holdings Inc. and YPF International, as well as four other defendants: CLH Holdings Inc., Maxus Energy Corp., Maxus International Energy Co., and Tierra Solutions Inc.

The state began its case against the alleged Passaic River polluters seven years ago. The state believes Diamond Shamrock Chemical Co., which manufactured pesticides and herbicides in Newark, intentionally dumped hazardous pollutants in the river for decades. The principal defendant in the case is Occidental Chemical Corp., the successor to Diamond Shamrock.

The deal with the other defendants clears the way for the state to pursue larger claims against Occidental, according to the press release.

In March, Hoffman’s office reached a $35.4 million settlement with 258 third-party defendants. Those defendants weren’t sued by the state, but rather were brought into the case by Maxus and Tierra, who believe the third parties also contributed to the pollution and thus ought to pay part of the costs.

The state said it cannot comment further on the case since the litigation is technically ongoing.

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